Ignoring pleas for mercy by defense attorneys, Circuit Judge Janine Kern sentenced 23-year-old Nico Steele on Monday to 15 years in prison for a knife attack on three homeless veterans on Main Street in Rapid City last summer.

Prosecutors say Steele stabbed two men outside the VFW at 420 Main St. on Aug. 15.; he also threatened a third man.

Steele was intoxicated when he confronted the men and turned violent when they refused to give him a cigarette, according to police reports.

Steele's first victim escaped unscathed after meeting him on the street while he was returning from a job cleaning up trash downtown.

The two stabbing victims had spent the day working at the VFW and were sitting outside relaxing when Steele approached them, according to Pennington County Deputy State's Attorney Gina Nelson.  One of the victims was stabbed trying to protect his co-worker.

Steele refused to negotiate a plea and a jury recently convicted him of three counts of aggravated assault and possession of a controlled substance.

At Steele's sentencing, Nelson conceded that Steele's upbringing was "tough, several of his brothers and sisters have been in jail," she said.

Steele's mother, Carol Goodman, told Kern that gangs and violence are a "mother's worst nightmare." A brother, Les, also joined his mother in asking Kern to consider a probationary sentence.

Public defender Jamy Patterson described her client as a "rare, unique and incredibly beautiful human being, deserving of another chance." Time in jail and the birth of a daughter have changed Steele, who also married while in custody, she said.

Nelson, however, reminded Kern that Steele has a prior felony conviction for threatening a law enforcement officer.

The defendant has never accepted responsibility for what was an "extremely violent crime" in the middle of the tourist season in downtown Rapid City, Nelson said

"It's fortunate the stabbing did not take a life," Nelson said, asking Kern for a prison sentence.

"Your life is out of control. You're fortunate they were able to fend you off," Kern told Steele.

Kern ordered Steele to serve three concurrent 15-year sentences for each aggravated assault charge, but suspended the execution of 10 years on one of the sentences.

Steele also received a 5-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance. All of the sentences will be served concurrently. He must serve 60 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole because of a prior felony conviction.

(8) comments

Cj Steele
Cj Steele

& thats not the reason he got married! He has a big family who love and care about him. Not to mention know the person he really is! We will all be waiting for him to come home. 8 years is well enough for stab wounds that looked liked bug bites as they said.

Dogwoman
Dogwoman

If he stabbed several people, it seems like he should expect to get 15 years. Or a heck of a lot more. It is disturbing to me that he was begging for mercy. Take some responsibility for your actions for crying out loud.

dirtyepic7
dirtyepic7

Got married while incarcerated. Winning!!!

bouttime
bouttime

Oh I can't even believe they even asked for a lienant sentence. These men fought for our country, Steeles country, gave him the freedom to even walk the streets. They are homeless,a fact that should strike a nerve with anyone with compassion,and trying to work to pay their way. Mr. Steele should be ashamed of himself,and his child is better off not being raised by a heartless human being such as this. Many of us have had a tough upbringing that doesn't give us the right to take someones life. Many of us have done drugs and drank ,you know what they say about excuses. i hope the system doesn't let this punk down and gives him the couseling he so needs. Maybe then he will come back as a responsible man with compassion. I'm pretty sure the only reason he married after his arrest is so he can get visits while incarcerated,How utterly selfish!

sambo2u
sambo2u

I saw him in court, he did not look like the type of person you are explaning above by the appearance that I saw. He looked like a thug! Stabbing a man to kill him for a cigarette? Lock him up and throw away the key. Who needs a daddy like that!

Cj Steele
Cj Steele

A thug? Lol you tripping. Alot of people have tattoos does that automatically mark them as a thig? Uh no!

Roland
Roland

Classic defense attorney: "rare, unique and incredibly beautiful human being, deserving of another chance."

By another chance, do you mean another chance to kill someone?

I do not admire the situation Judge Kern was in. Daddy goes to prison, and another kid is raised without a father. But what choice did she have?

TJB
TJB

A "rare, unique and incredibly beautiful human being, deserving of another chance." Really? That must be a rare type of beautiful human being; one who goes around stabbing people during drug fueled rampages.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.